GDB 43.0: SWIMMING WITH THE SHARKS

Jason Gregor
January 02 2014 12:11PM

During their seven, soon to be eight, year playoff drought the Edmonton Oilers have done surprisingly well against the San Jose Sharks. While the Oilers have floundered near the bottom of the standings the Sharks have circled near the top, finishing 5th, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 7th and 6th in the western conference.

Once again, the Sharks are one of the best teams in the west, sitting 4th with a 25-9-6 record, and the Sharks lead the league with a +7.3 ratio in shots for/against. Despite the Sharks consistency as an elite team and the Oilers as a bottom-feeder, Edmonton is 6-6-1 in San Jose during the past seven seasons.

Why? I have no idea, but the Oilers are hoping they continue to be competitive in the Shark Tank tonight.

The Oilers' struggles against western division playoff teams continued in Phoenix on Tuesday with a 4-3 OT loss. The score flattered the Oilers as they were outshot 45-25. In 14 games against the top-8 western teams the Oilers have been outshot by a combined 163 shots and are a paltry 1-11-2. It has been ugly vs. the best in the west, and the Oilers need to wake up to avoid another "shot kicking" tonight.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Perron
Yakupov-Gagner-Eberle
Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
Joensuu-Lander-Gazdic

Ference-J.Schultz
N.Schultz-Petry
Belov-Marincin

Bryzgalov/Dubnyk

Those were the lines at practice yesterday, so they likely stay the same tonight. Eakins likely won't play his goalies back-to-back and Bryzgalov has played two very strong games, so they could go with him tonight and Dubnyk tomorrow; unless Eakins wants Bryz to face another one of his former teams. Either way, goaltending hasn't been the issue the past few games.

Yakupov draws back in while Roman Horak played one game and was sent back to OKC. I'm curious to see how Yakupov responds to Eakins' "plan." The simple part of the plan is that Eakins will play Yakupov with offensive guys as long as Yakupov plays better without the puck and in the D zone.

I expect Yakupov to play hard tonight, but based on what Eakins said he'll need to do it consistently to stick in the top-six. That is fine, but it's about time Eakins starts thinking about challenging some other forwards the way he has Yakupov. Gagner and Eberle need to be better.

QUICK HITS

  • Anton Belov's play on the OT goal was the epitome of a soft play. For reasons unexplained he elected to coast for one stride at the blueline and then he made a weak stick check on Yandle. I understand that players will make mistakes, turn the puck over and not always execute, but soft plays are inexcusable and the Oilers have too many players who make soft plays fairly frequently. Until that stops this organization won't improve. If Belov plays significant minutes tonight what message is Eakins sending his team?
     
  •  The players need to be more accountable to each other, and I liked that Ilya Bryzgalov showed his displeasure after the tying and OT goals. You don't want players doing it all the time, but at certain times it is necessary. It might cause some discomfort now and then, but when Bryzgalov, who spent the past 120 minutes standing on his head keeping his team in the game, gets fired up his teammates should listen. He was playing his ass of and it is nice to see a player demand that his teammates put forth the same effort.
     
  • Scott Burnside wrote a fantastic article on how TEAM USA picked their 25-man roster. It was great to get a glimpse into the process. The thing that stood out to me, yet didn't surprise me, was how cautious they were about offensive players. That is the biggest issue in our game in my opinion. GMs and coaches would rather go with safe players than highly skilled guys who might make mistakes.

    Bobby Ryan has scored 160 goals since the start of the 2008/2009 season. Phil Kessel, 175, is the only American with more goals during that span, yet Ryan didn't make the team.

    What perplexed me the most was that the coaches felt they didn't need him on the PP, because he only had 8 PP points in Ottawa. The majority of the game is played five-on-five, and the only forward on the USA roster with more ES points than Ryan's 28 is Patrick Kane. Ryan produces at ES, and Brian Burke even admitted in the article that he is an elite finisher. Instead of downplaying his PP production, shouldn't they have been applauding his ES totals?

    My biggest beef about the state of hockey is that coaches are drawn towards safe players instead of finishers.Hockey is becoming to risk averse. I understand the need to have reliable players on the roster, but if you can't score you won't win. Is Derek Stepan going to be a difference maker more than Ryan? Ryan has been one of the top-ten most productive goal scorers in the NHL the past five years, yet the USA elected to go with guys who were "safer" and had a good first 40 games of the season. I suspect they will regret that decision.
     
  • What makes Ryan's omission even more surprising is the make up of their blueline. Only one of the eight D-men named to team USA would crack Canada's top-seven, Ryan Suter. The rest are Ryan McDonagh, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Justin Faulk, John Carlson, Kevin Shattenkirk and Cam Fowler. Orpik is the only physical defender, and only Carlson is the only other one above 6'2".

    How do they plan to defend Canada's big skilled forwards like Getzlaf, Perry and others? They can't expect to win games 2-1 just because they have Jonathan Quick in goal? Their blueline is made up of puckmovers, but they cut their 3rd most productive forward and that seems somewhat contradictory to me.

    I'm very surprised Dustin Byfuglien wasn't one of their eight defenders. He adds a different dimension. To me Carlsson, Faulk, Fowler and Shattenkirk are essentially the same player. I don't see how their blueline will be able to handle Canada's forwards when they start cycling. That is great news for Canadians. I don't see USA as a main threat in this tournament.
     
  • You can point at Taylor Hall and make an argument that he should make Team, Canada based on his offence, and that is a valid point. However, the difference between him and Ryan is that Canada has other guys with more points than Hall. Crosby, Toews, Getzlaf, Perry, Sharp, Tavares, Kunitz and Thornton. Kunitz also has more points, but playing with Crosby definitely helps.

    I've said I'd have Hall on the 25-man roster, but Canada has the luxury of going with guys who are also very good offensively, but have a bit more experience in Staal, Nash and Giroux.  Even in the case of Kunitz he is showing he can produce. Pascal Dupuis also played with Crosby and he only had 20 points. If Kunitz makes the team at least they can say he is producing more than guys who didn't make it, unlike Ryan with Team USA.

    When Hockey Canada makes their announcement next week it will be interesting to see which forwards aren't on it. We could see Hall, Seguin, Benn and Duchene on the outside.

TONIGHT...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Their struggles against top teams continue with a 4-2 loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall has eight points in his last four games and he continues his strong play tonight with a goal and an assist. He is making a strong push to make Team Canada, but even he admitted he doesn't think he'll crack the roster. Hall could be top-15 in scoring by the time January 7th rolls around, which will only add to the debate if he doesn't make the cut.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After scoring four goals in his first six games, Boyd Gordon only has one in his last 30. He buries his 6th of the season tonight which puts him on pace to shatter his career high of eight goals.
 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#251 DevoKnows
January 02 2014, 11:36PM
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I'll also be attending sporting events from around NA instead of renewing my Executive Terrace Tickets!!! 8K should get me 3, possibly 4 excursions!! Thanks for "stringing me along" for 4 years!!!! NOT!!!!!!!!!

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#252 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 11:36PM
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cubsfan wrote:

I was thinking same

you can buy San Diego season tickets, or Arizona Cardinal tickets, even Chicago bears (direct flights now).....

Only 8 home games......

You can pay for a flight for 2, watch NFL game, and hotel.....all for the price of GOLD Seats ......LITERALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for the idea

or

I can save my 15k, go to a masters, fly to the UK and catch EPL game, go to the final four, go to Kentucky derby, go to Vegas and watch some UFC live....... and have life experiences.......

Seriously considering

Please don't go cubsfan......you'll be giving up your tier one status.....and you'll regret it $150,000.00 from now when the Oilers finally ice a contender!

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#253 ValleyviewSports
January 02 2014, 11:38PM
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Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

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#254 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 11:40PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

Are you complaining that this bothers you?

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#255 ValleyviewSports
January 02 2014, 11:41PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Are you complaining that this bothers you?

No, I'm asking. Don't answer a question with a question either marty

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#256 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 11:44PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

Only when I pull into Mr.Lube for an oil change and 6hours later they ask me if I want a new filter

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#257 Hoozinphirst
January 02 2014, 11:45PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

You live in Valleyview and have to ask that question? I'd like to complain about the price of fuel in your ahem...town.

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#258 Drowning in Oil
January 02 2014, 11:45PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

No, in my everyday life, I find I usually get value for what I pay for. It only seems to be when I go to an Oiler game or support this team that I am disappointed........... So to answer your question, no!!

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#259 cubsfan
January 02 2014, 11:45PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Are you complaining that this bothers you?

no, just when I pay $15,000 for a product and its defective....then i complain......

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#260 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 11:46PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

No, I'm asking. Don't answer a question with a question either marty

Are you complaining that I answered a question with a question?

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#261 ValleyviewSports
January 02 2014, 11:47PM
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Hoozinphirst wrote:

You live in Valleyview and have to ask that question? I'd like to complain about the price of fuel in your ahem...town.

No, I'm of the neighbourhood in the west end.

good answers everybody

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#262 Drowning in Oil
January 02 2014, 11:48PM
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cubsfan wrote:

no, just when I pay $15,000 for a product and its defective....then i complain......

And this is coming from a Cubs fan, lol!!

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#263 cubsfan
January 02 2014, 11:49PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Please don't go cubsfan......you'll be giving up your tier one status.....and you'll regret it $150,000.00 from now when the Oilers finally ice a contender!

...I'll feel like such a sucker in 10 years......$150k is a lot when you think about it.....im having a bit of an epiphany......i may not be the only one

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#264 FauxRumors
January 02 2014, 11:52PM
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Another stellar night by TH and RNH...both -3 on the night!

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#265 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 11:53PM
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cubsfan wrote:

...I'll feel like such a sucker in 10 years......$150k is a lot when you think about it.....im having a bit of an epiphany......i may not be the only one

But seriously.....please don't leave.....I'm a tier two fan and I count on you to subsidize me.......and you're not a sucker...you're a fan......and you do deserve better.

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#266 cubsfan
January 02 2014, 11:53PM
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Drowning in Oil wrote:

And this is coming from a Cubs fan, lol!!

.....at least we/they are the 'loveable losers'......thats their identity.....cursed for eternity.....not much to love here

maybe i'm the problem.....every team i cheer for loses.....a lot!

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#267 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 11:54PM
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cubsfan wrote:

no, just when I pay $15,000 for a product and its defective....then i complain......

FYI

$15000 is about what Sam gagner gets for three shifts...

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#268 Drowning in Oil
January 02 2014, 11:56PM
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cubsfan wrote:

.....at least we/they are the 'loveable losers'......thats their identity.....cursed for eternity.....not much to love here

maybe i'm the problem.....every team i cheer for loses.....a lot!

Hey, me too. I'm a Bills fan. Lol

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#269 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 11:59PM
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For $15,000 you could probably buy enough pitch forks and hand them out to everybody for the next home game

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#270 Drowning in Oil
January 03 2014, 12:03AM
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WE REALLY NEED TO LOOK AT THE POSITIVES...... EVEN IF THE SABRES WIN BOTH THEIR GAMES AT HAND, WE'LL STILL BE AHEAD OF THEM. YAHOO!!

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#271 Rod from Viking
January 03 2014, 12:04AM
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RexHolez wrote:

For $15,000 you could probably buy enough pitch forks and hand them out to everybody for the next home game

That would buy a lot of knock-off Oiler jerseys with #0 and Eakins on the back to throw on the ice, oh and an "A" on the front that doesn't stand for assistant. I can't believe he was basically blaming Yak for the loss, what a joke.

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#272 cubsfan
January 03 2014, 12:05AM
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RexHolez wrote:

For $15,000 you could probably buy enough pitch forks and hand them out to everybody for the next home game

and paper bags...

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#273 Soccer Steve
January 03 2014, 12:29AM
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Where's Howard Beatle when you need him?

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#274 Bryzarro World
January 03 2014, 12:34AM
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Screw this! I'm going to go back to Russia and fight bears in the woods...

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#275 Serious Gord
January 03 2014, 12:38AM
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Bryzarro World wrote:

Screw this! I'm going to go back to Russia and fight bears in the woods...

Watch out where those huskies go...

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#276 Walter Sobchak
January 03 2014, 02:09AM
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Is there anybody who still thinks Eakins isn't in way over his head?

If I was Nelson I'd feel cheated!!!

Arguable the worst Oilers team in 8 years.

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#277 Freewheeling Freddie
January 03 2014, 02:12AM
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Eakins will blame Yak for this loss. Dubnyk is so bad goalie 911 said this number is out of order. Can we somehow forfeit this season? This is so painful. Hey Kevin are you still alive you have been awfully quiet. Wow can you imagine when the new arena opens and we have just finished breaking the all time record for missing the playoffs. I should be quiet I am a tier 2 or maybe a tier 3 fan.

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#278 **
January 03 2014, 02:38AM
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This is what the Oilers look like every game:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jygTEr6DIpQ

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#279 Ari Gold
January 03 2014, 04:27AM
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DevoKnows wrote:

I'll also be attending sporting events from around NA instead of renewing my Executive Terrace Tickets!!! 8K should get me 3, possibly 4 excursions!! Thanks for "stringing me along" for 4 years!!!! NOT!!!!!!!!!

Make sure to put Century Link field on that list. Seahawks, the loudest building in the league, and you could probably catch a U-dub college game the Saturday before.

If you're smart, skip the Mariners unless you're bored and want to drink beer.

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#280 Ari Gold
January 03 2014, 04:29AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Is there anybody who still thinks Eakins isn't in way over his head?

If I was Nelson I'd feel cheated!!!

Arguable the worst Oilers team in 8 years.

Ironically I'd say that this roster looks to be the best of the past 8 years but they're certainly putting up the worst numbers.

But what do I know, I've quit watching this mess. I've got just enough effort to watch highlights.

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#281 nWo4life
January 03 2014, 06:18AM
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cubsfan wrote:

...I'll feel like such a sucker in 10 years......$150k is a lot when you think about it.....im having a bit of an epiphany......i may not be the only one

Assuming you are in the top tax bracket, you would need to earn $246k to pay for those tickets. That's a lot of cash to spend on what exactly?

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#282 Serious Gord
January 03 2014, 07:14AM
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nWo4life wrote:

Assuming you are in the top tax bracket, you would need to earn $246k to pay for those tickets. That's a lot of cash to spend on what exactly?

A cool quarter mill.

That's a lot of hookers and blow...

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#283 Bryzarro World
January 03 2014, 09:38AM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

Let's all be moronic sheep and cheer for this pile of crap!! Same pile of crap for 15 years!

You the kind of guy that pays for a hummer but they give you a prius and you take it anyway just because you don't wanna complain or hurt a feeling?

WTF else you going to do on an oiler blog site when they play like this?

You're a frigging genius bud!!

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#284 Bryzarro World
January 03 2014, 09:39AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Watch out where those huskies go...

In mother Russia we use huskys as finger puppets..

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#285 Bryzarro World
January 03 2014, 09:46AM
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DevoKnows wrote:

I'll also be attending sporting events from around NA instead of renewing my Executive Terrace Tickets!!! 8K should get me 3, possibly 4 excursions!! Thanks for "stringing me along" for 4 years!!!! NOT!!!!!!!!!

I gave up my seasons a few years ago and i feel FREE!!

It's a beautiful thing my friend. New arena or not, if I decide to watch hockey I have a WAY better experience hanging with friends at my pad or going to a pub.... IF

I lost the urge to support a bunch of crying babies that make millions for putting in less effort than Rosie Odonnell in the morning. Sports have got out of hand and I won't be a part of it.

Travel the world. See it before you die. So many beautiful things to see instead of being stuck in edmonton watching a joke and wasting time/money.I might watch regularly if the salary cap comes down to 30 mil, other than that, screw it.

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#286 Bryzarro World
January 03 2014, 09:47AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

A cool quarter mill.

That's a lot of hookers and blow...

Lol... spoken like a true politician!

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#287 RexHolez
January 03 2014, 10:32AM
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Didn't stauffer say somthing like you could see 6 new forwards and 4 new D next year? What exactly have we been rebuilding in the last 4 years??? If you gotta replace half your team 4 years after you start rebuilding someone f'ed up. Where's the accountability?

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#288 RexHolez
January 03 2014, 10:37AM
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4 years of rebuilding and I see maybe 4 players with any value? How exactly are we rebuilding other than picking 1st overall?? This is a joke and I'm amazed the guys in charge are still allowed to sell this fantasy dream they keep talking about. It's obvious they're incompetent

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#289 David S
January 03 2014, 12:39PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

No, I'm of the neighbourhood in the west end.

good answers everybody

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD IN YEG!

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#290 Dave
January 03 2014, 01:18PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Heard Gregor talking about Dubnyk one day saying scouts in the NHL don't think Dubnyk is nearly athletic enough to be a starter in the NHL.

I was thinking that very thing yesterday watching the Canadian kid goalie stop the breakaway (or was it the US game?..whatever...) - I thought "No way in the world Dubnyk makes that save. Can't bend, stretch...that's a goal on him."

I am surprised to hear that. Ever since last season ended Gregor was of the view that the Oilers could get by Dubnyk and you didn't need a top tier goalie .

I was always of the view that you need a good goalie as your first priority in rebuild.

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#291 Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)
January 03 2014, 09:09PM
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Methinks the Jaws movie theme song is suitable for this game after every goal the Sharks scored......

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